This community art space in a Selangor fishing village gets a colourful makeover


  • Arts
  • Sunday, 24 Oct 2021

Ng Kim Heoh’s 'Optical Illusion' mural at Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor building. Photo: Sasaran Arts Association

Now that we can cross state borders again, you can put Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor on your list.

If you have been to this outpost community-based art centre before, you would notice that the building looks very different now because of its new and colourful wall murals.

The murals were completed in April, but relatively few people have had the opportunity to see them in person as shortly after they were done, the gallery had to close due to pandemic restrictions.

The murals are the work of four invited artists: Ng Kim Heoh, Jason Teo Jia Hao, Bibichun and Sliz.

“We chose our respective themes and decided on our creative styles. This mural project provided a platform for us to showcase our talent and share our art with the public. It serves to beautify the building of Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor, enhance its artistic features and continue to be an attraction for tourists visiting the Kuala Selangor district, especially Sasaran. We might just come up with new designs later on, once the colours of the present murals fade!” says Ng, who opted to work in mainly black and white for her two pieces, Optical Illusion and Jumping Fish.

Jumping Fish is a simple mural depicting a fish jumping out of water, a nod to Sasaran being a fishing village; while Optical Illusion plays with depth and dimension... and a zebra head.

Sliz’s mural 'Real Eyes Realise Real Lies', which is inspired by French artist Henri Matisse’s 'Dance'. Photo: Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor Sliz’s mural 'Real Eyes Realise Real Lies', which is inspired by French artist Henri Matisse’s 'Dance'. Photo: Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor

At the entrance, Bibichun’s Kesucian Pelangi Ternoda – looking like a cross between the Nyan Cat meme and a firefly – welcomes you to the art space.

One of Kuala Selangor’s attractions is its firefly tours, a boat trip on the Selangor river that offers a spectacular view of the flashing fireflies on dark, moonless nights.

High up on the wall, Real Eyes Realise Real Lies by Sliz features three dancing women. It draws from French artist Henri Matisse’s Dance, but uses only three figures (instead of five) to represent the primary colours red, blue and yellow.

Bibichun's 'Kesucian Pelangi Ternoda' (below) and 'Ikan Makan Ikan' (top) Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor. Photo: Sasaran Arts AssociationBibichun's 'Kesucian Pelangi Ternoda' (below) and 'Ikan Makan Ikan' (top) Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor. Photo: Sasaran Arts Association

“This symbolises unity and inclusivity, how from these three basic colours you can create any colour in the world by mixing them together. This is intended to portray the harmonious multicultural nation Malaysia can become, if we are able to acknowledge our differences and ‘mix’ different cultures and ideologies to create something totally new.

“The mural also pays tribute to the fresh start the Sasaran community is trying to achieve by turning a fishing village into an art hub that promotes cultural exchange locally and globally,” according to Sliz.

Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor first opened its doors to the public in November 2017.

Among the activities held there are workshops like the Sasaran International Ceramic Art Workshop and art workshops for secondary school students, and exhibitions from the Sasaran Artist Residency and the Sasaran International Art Festival.

Resident artist Jason Teo Jia Hao’s 'Smoke' artwork gives the Sasaran art space a street edge vibe. Photo: Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor Resident artist Jason Teo Jia Hao’s 'Smoke' artwork gives the Sasaran art space a street edge vibe. Photo: Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor

The Sasaran International Art Festival, held once every three years, was supposed to return in 2020 but had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

The Sasaran Arts Association has no intention of making the festival a virtual one, as many around the world have done.

Ng Bee, chairman of Sasaran Arts Association says that face-to-face interaction is much more impactful for the artists, villagers and visitors in Sasaran during a festival.

“So we will not consider the possibility of going virtual. At the moment, we don’t have any definite plans for the art festival. We will wait and see, because there is no point holding a festival when everyone is worried about whether it is safe to do so. Depending on the situation then, is it also possible that the next edition of the festival will involve only local artists,” he says.

At the moment, Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor is hosting the Sasaran Artist Residency Programme 2020 final exhibition, featuring emerging artists Gabriel Pek and Jason Teo Jia Hao, who will showcase their artworks until Nov 20.

Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor is currently hosting the Sasaran Artist Residency Programme 2020 final exhibition, featuring emerging artists Gabriel Pek and Jason Teo Jia Hao. Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor is currently hosting the Sasaran Artist Residency Programme 2020 final exhibition, featuring emerging artists Gabriel Pek and Jason Teo Jia Hao.

The exhibition titled Haikou (a Hokkien word that means “seaport”), will not have a launch event.

Instead, visitors can head to the gallery to view the artworks.

“There won’t be an opening ceremony for the exhibition but whoever is around the area, do drop by to view their artworks. You are most welcome to give support to these young artists,” says Ng.

Like many other independent arts spaces out there, Ng adds that the Sasaran Art Gallery association has been badly hit by the pandemic. As a non-profit organisation, it relies heavily on fundraising activities, sponsorship and support from the public.

“During this trying time, our biggest challenge is funding. But my advice to fellow artists is to stay strong and stay safe, and let’s move forward together.

“Art is part of life, it plays an important role emotionally and spiritually. It makes life more beautiful. So don’t give up, we can thrive even if the situation is tough, because we need to continue making art,” he concludes.

More info here.

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